Sen. Roy Brown Steps Up to Challenge Schweitzer

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS (AP) – State Sen. Roy Brown of Billings announced he is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2008, saying he was “compelled to run because state spending is completely out of control.”

Brown is the first GOP candidate to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who is seeking re-election. Brown plans campaign stops in Billings, Helena, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula and Bozeman on Thursday. On Monday, he plans to begin a 50-towns-in-10-days tour of the state.

Brown was elected to the Montana Senate in 2006 after serving four, two-year terms in the House. The retired oilman served as House majority whip in 2001, majority leader in 2003 and House Republican leader in 2005 when there was a 50-50 split in the chamber.

He said the budgets in the past two legislative sessions have increased more than 40 percent, he said.

“If there is a blip in the economy, the taxpayer-funded surpluses will not be there to fund the new spending,” he said. “There are automatic escalators written into those spending increases. That means there will be calls for tax increases and history says that does not work.”

Brown said he will work for long-term real property tax relief; elimination of the 3 percent business equipment tax; a return to accountability and integrity in campaign finance and openness in government; and responsible state spending.

Brown said the decision to run was “an extremely difficult process.” Brown said his wife, Kim, and their three children are all on board and excited about the coming campaign. He said he does not expect an opponent in the primary election, “but anything is possible.”

He said he expects to raise and spend about $1.6 million for his campaign.

“It will be difficult, but if I can get 16,000 people to give me a hundred bucks, that is $1.6 million.” State law allows a candidate for governor to accept donations of up to $500 per individual for both the primary and general elections.

Schweitzer had reported raising $750,000 through Oct. 5 and having $452,320 in the bank. He raised $1.5 million in running for governor in 2004.

Schweitzer could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday on Brown’s candidacy.

Montana’s primary election in 2008 is June 3. The general election is Nov. 4.

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